When you ask Ankit Maheshwari, co-founder & CEO of Betaout—a Delhi-based startup, what prompted him to establish his venture, he has an interesting story to tell. A story about his purchasing an expensive coffee machine from a prominent Indian e-commerce platform, about one and half years ago, and the consequent bad experience that left him think about an appropriate solution for the companies. He along with his brother ordered the coffee machine and they got it delivered in a day’s time and it was promptly installed by the engineers sent by the e-commerce firm.
The twist in the story came in an email sent by the e-commerce company after a week or so, which announced that the same machine was now available for a discount of 25%. Ankit quickly returned the purchase taking a refund, while ordering the machine afresh, availing the 25% discount. He says the e-commerce company had failed to understand who were the customers that bought the coffee machine and would have avoided sending the discount mail to them. The company’s marketing tools were inadequate to perform this kind of analysis. “That was the trigger and we thought why can’t we work on this and find a solution,” says Ankit, who began his career as a developer at Dimension India Networks.
Prior to Betaout, he founded Instamedia Network—a lifestyle blog network subsequently acquired by a Dubai-based media company.
Today, Betaout lists 150 plus e-commerce firms, including Paytm, Goibibo, and Goqii, as its clients.
Speaking to FE, Ankit says that the most of the e-commerce companies’ marketing tools were not based on contextual marketing feedback at that point of time. Betaout is an all-in-one e-commerce and B2C marketing software platform. It allows e-commerce companies to build user intelligence databases and provides tools to engage with users through email, on-site engagement, mobile push, live-chat, SMS, and through other channels.
Ankit says that existing marketing tools in the market used by e-commerce companies and B2B sites are general in nature and need a high degree of customisation prior to delivering value. “Betaout differentiates itself by offering a customised set of tools tailored to the needs of e-commerce players.”
Betaout has launched a SaaS-based offering for B2C and e-commerce companies that provides customers real time big-data, segmentation based on business rules, and machine learning. The company’s revenue model is based on a monthly recurring subscription that is determined by the number of addressable contacts and messages sent.
When prodded about the focus area of the company, Ankit says, “Betaout is a customer intelligence and marketing automation startup. Our prime focus area is to help e-commerce companies retain their customers, increase conversions and personalise user engagement using real-time user persona and intent data.”
Talking about his fund raising plans, Ankit says, “We are in talks with some funds but we not actively looking to raise funds at the moment. The focus right now is on execution.” The startup has raised a little over $2 million in seed funding. This came from a group of investors including Beenext, Stanford Angels, Letsventure, Chennai Angels, Hyderabad Angels and Mumbai Angels. Match Group CEO, Sam Yagan who had participated in Betaout’s seed round funding through Corazon Capital also participated in this round. In its earlier seed round, Betaout had raised $500,000 from a group of CEOs/founders including, Snapdeal, Paytm, Match Group, Groupon India, Freshdesk, Redbus, Slideshare, Goibibio, Shaadi, Slideshare, Better Inc.
According to Ankit, at the moment there are no plans to diversify the product portfolio; instead it would work on the extension of the Betaout solution. Now with Betaout, instead of using multiple different tools for marketing, e-commerce marketers need just use one tool (Betaout) for all their online marketing related needs. “We are like an operating system for marketers who can either use existing offerings or plug-and-play other services (for e-mail, SMS etc) and manage everything using a single dashboard,” he says.
Going forward, the startup will work on a tool which can predict e-commerce customers’ future behaviour. The new solution, an extension of Betaout, will be named after iconic French seer Nostradamus. It will be able to predict in what interval a customer could buy a particular product and the price he/she would want to buy it.
Ankit says, “We are a small and accomplished team of around 50 people at the moment and are looking to add around a dozen or so more really smart people, especially in technology, sales and account management in the next few months.”
BETAOUT: A QUICK SNAPSHOT
USP: Differentiates itself by offering a customised set of tools tailored to the needs of e-commerce firms
Founded: October 2014
Founders: Ankit Maheshwari, Raghubir Thakur, Arjun Maheshwari, Nandini Rathi, Mayank Dhingra
Seed funding: $500,000
Pre Series A: $1.5 million
Presence: 11 countries
Customers: 150+ e-commerce firms including Paytm, Goibibo, Goqii